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Top 10 Free Things to do in Milford Sound

A hiker stands on a peak looking over the Milford Sound on a day walk from Milford Sound Lodge.

Milford Sound is known for its stunning cruises on the fiord and other adventure activities like kayaking and diving. But there is so much more to do here if you have the time. With an incredible range of hikes and scenic spots to explore, you may just discover that here in Milford Sound - the best things in life really are free.

Stay the night in Milford Sound and not only will you have time to take a Milford Sound cruise but also discover some of the best free things to do in Milford Sound.

1. Wake up at dawn to listen to the Bellbird chorus

Nothing starts the day off like the beautiful song of the bellbird calling to its mate. The clarity of the bellbird’s note is one-of-a-kind, and there really is no better alarm clock to start the day.

2. Watch the first light hit the fiord from the foreshore

Get in before the cruise boat passengers and enjoy uninterrupted sunrise views from the foreshore. The beautiful sight of the morning sun lighting up the fiord is a sight to cherish.

3. Fill your water bottle with some of New Zealand’s best water from the Cleddau River

Go straight to the source and quench your thirst with some of the purest water in New Zealand. The Cleddau River flows past Milford Sound Lodge and its waters are worth a taste. Feel free to cast a line if you fancy some Rainbow Trout for supper.

4. Adventure through thick, untouched rainforest in the Tutoko Valley

Take a walk in Fiordland’s pristine temperate rainforest and feel the power of nature. The start of the Tutoko Valley track is found a short drive from the lodge on the Milford road by the Tutoko Valley bridge. It is a challenging two-hour hike up the Tutoko River Valley. Clamber over trees, jump through puddles and look out for rare and wonderful wildlife.

5. Hike in glacier-carved valleys and marvel at impressive mountains and waterfalls

Take a walk up the Cleddau Valley for a bit of perspective on the vastness of Fiordland. Catch a glimpse of mighty peaks which seem to reach the clouds, and cascading waterfalls flowing out of sheer cliffsides. A huge and impressive landscape.

6. Have fun with the mischievous (and rare) kea

Fiordland is home to one of New Zealand’s most likable endangered birds, the kea. The world's only mountain parrot, they are certainly not shy and often come and say hi, or rather, ‘Keeeeeaaaaaaaaaa’. These rare birds are not only beautiful; they are incredibly cheeky and have been known to steal food from bags and peel rubbers seals off car windows!

7. Join a free evening nature walk and learn about what makes Fiordland so special

Take a relaxed stroll with the nature guide at Milford Sound Lodge to learn more about Fiordland. A fascinating insight into the amazing stories, plants and animals that make up this World Heritage Site.

8. Watch the sunset in the Arthur Valley

Head down to Deep Water Basin for the best place to watch the sun dip behind the mountains. Watch the sky turn from blue to crimson to orange and every hue in between.

9. Discover the glowworms 

As you think about heading to bed for a well-earned rest, the little glow worm is just beginning its day. After dark, these curious little creatures come out and create a magical mass of gentle lights in nearby trees or caves. Ask our team where you might find our local glowworms.

10. Look up for one of the best night skies you’ll ever see.

No shops, no town, no light pollution! Get comfortable under a blanket and stare up into one of the darkest (and therefore most star-filled) skies in New Zealand. An absolutely stunning display of the Milky Way, the Southern Cross and quite a few shooting stars and one of our favourite free things to do in Milford Sound.

Photo taken by William Patino Photography

By Barton Matthews, Milford Sound Lodge Team Member